Land Value Taxation Campaign

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German-Danish bridge bonanza for landowners

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Train on the Puttgarden to Rødby ferry
On the Rødby-Puttgarden Ferry

With the recent confirmation of construction of a 19km long bridge from Puttgarden in Germany to Rødby in Denmark, to be finished in 2018, one of the last train ferries will come to an end. A Danish IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen is seen here on the car deck of the Scandlines ferry.

Passengers who enjoy the 45 minute crossing and the comfortable ferry with on-board restaurant may not appreciate the change, but it will reduce transport costs. In the absence of land value taxation, however, this is another bonanza for landowners, paid for by taxpayers.
 

The Budget 2009 - a broader perspective

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Tommas Graves takes a step back from considerations of winners, losers and avoiders, and gives a view of the budget from a broader perspective

“Dishonest” says the Economist. Taken together with the steps to deal with the banking crisis, what we can see is the attempt to get the economy back to normal.

NORMAL? But what is normal?

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Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers

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In April 1649 Winstanley, William Everard, a former soldier in the New Model Army and about thirty followers took over some common land on St George's Hill in Surrey and "sowed the ground with parsnips, carrots and beans." Digger groups also took over land in Kent (Cox Hill), Surrey (Cobham), Buckinghamshire (Iver) and Northamptonshire (Wellingborough).

Local landowners were very disturbed by these developments. In July 1649 the government gave instructions for Winstanley to be arrested and for General Thomas Fairfax to "disperse the people by force" in case this is the "beginning to whence things of a greater and more dangerous consequence may grow". Oliver Cromwell is reported to have said: "What is the purport of the levelling principle but to make the tenant as liberal a fortune as the landlord. I was by birth a gentleman. You must cut these people in pieces or they will cut you in pieces."

Instructions were given for the Diggers to be beaten up and for their houses, crops and tools to be destroyed. These tactics were successful and within a year all the Digger communities in England had been wiped out.

In memory of the 360th anniversary of the Diggers, we publish a poem kindly submitted by Simon M Hunter.

St. George's Hill in forty nine, the time
Of Charles's chopping block, we Diggers come
Reclaiming earth by Bastard taken, all
Those centuries before. But Fairfax cried
"Enough of revolution, turn again
Your commune to its owners, lords of land"
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"Abolish bridge tolls" says small business federation

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Temperatures are apparently rising among the small business community over tolls charged to use the major river crossings in England and Wales. Although not all businesses are affected, the Federation of Small Businesses wants road tolls abolished in England and Wales, following the lead of the Scottish Executive.
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Wrong sort of land value tax

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There has been a bit of mention of land value taxation in the press recently, though not in any coherent way. In an article in the Guardian a couple of days ago, Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex, said, amongst other things, that, "A land value tax should be levied that so that when house and office values increase due to adjacent road, rail and public investment some of the gains are shared with the taxpayer."

It is not clear precisely what Prem Sikka is proposing, but if it is a one-off hit to collect the increases in the selling price of land following investment in infrastructure, it is not what we have in mind. There are many ways of imposing a land value tax. Most of them are unfair, harmful, complex and difficult to administer.
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What is the Tax Justice Network?

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The Tax Justice Network (TJN) is an international consortium of organisations which claim to be concerned about injustices in the tax system. Their main focus has been on tax havens. It should not be difficult to understand that if taxation is levied on people and moveables, then they will move if they can to reduce their tax liability. But suggest to TJN - as many LVT advocates have - that a shift to land value taxation will largely get rid of the problem that they are so concerned about, and the response will be, "we disagree: land value taxes have a role, but only as part of a broader tax system."
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Scapegoating the tax havens

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It seems as if the world's political leaders are determined to avoid examining the role of the land market in causing the boom/bust, which every day shows signs of being even worse than that of the early 1930s. The technique is to keep on finding excuses and scapegoats. The latest target is tax havens.
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Greenspan: Fed could not have stopped US housing bubble

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Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has defended his policies against an increasing number of critics who argue they are largely responsible for the current financial and economic crisis. Greenspan, who chaired the US central bank between 1987 and the beginning of 2006, said in today's Wall Street Journal that keeping the so-called federal-funds rate - or overnight lending rate between banks - at historically low levels between 2001 and 2006 should not be blamed for the credit and housing bubble. According to Greenspan, the glut of savings built up by emerging market economies, particularly China, played a much bigger role than the Federal Reserve. By investing much of the savings into bond markets, the former Fed chairman argues, these economies helped keep long-term interest rates - key to the cost of mortgages for US homeowners - at a dangerously low level.

Greenspan is wrong.
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